Vancouver Mission for New Head of Science

10 March 2010

Dr Mike Gillespie

Dr Mike Gillespie

Dr Hazel Willis

Dr Hazel Willis

The University of Derby's new Head of the School of Science is preparing to travel to Canada to attend the Paralympics in Vancouver - in his capacity as a Director for British Curling Ltd.

Canadian-born Dr Mike Gillespie has joined the University this month to head up the University's Science provision. He takes up his post as an Assistant Dean within the Faculty of Education, Health and Sciences in the late summer, when biology expert Dr Mike Greenwood retires after more than 34 years of service to the University.

One of Mike Gillespie's new Subject Heads is Dr Hazel Willis, who has also joined the University this month as its new Head of Psychology.

New Science Head Mike Gillespie highlights the importance of nurturing and developing effective stakeholder partnerships for the University to enhance its standing even further.

Mike has been on the Board of Directors for British Curling since 2006, playing a vital professional leadership, governance and management role for the sport as it seeks performance excellence at major sporting events including the recent Winter Olympics.

He said: "This is an exciting time to be joining the University of Derby. STEM subjects are a key government priority. The School of Science has done well in the recent RAE, and there is a lot of innovative work taking place here.

"One area for development is continuing to diversify and engage with employers to help enhance the learning experience of our students and make them even more employable. The ability to develop effective networks both within the UK and internationally will be a key priority for the School.

"Science plays a key part in so many areas of the national agenda at the moment - looking ahead to the 2012 Olympics, climate change and the sustainability agenda - so there are a lot of opportunities for higher education institutions to engage with a range of employers and organisations and enhancing knowledge transfer in science."

Mike has lived in the UK for seven years and his most recent post was as Head of Division for Sport, Exercise and Life Sciences at Northampton University. He has lectured at universities in Canada, the United States and in Morocco.

Mike holds a PhD from the Ohio State University in America, and his area of academic interest is adapted physical activity. His research examines issues related to physical activity, fitness and motor skill acquisition among individuals with intellectual disabilities.

Previous research activity has included a study about the walking patterns of adults with intellectual disabilities and the use of accelerometers to determine activity intensity levels of athletes with disabilities.

Meanwhile, Dr Hazel Willis is the new Head of Psychology within the School of Science, taking over from Kevin Silber, a Senior Lecturer in Derby's Psychology team who now wishes to concentrate on his interests in teaching and learning. Hazel was most recently Faculty International Partnerships Manager at the University of Gloucestershire, and in her seven years at the institution was also Deputy Head of Natural and Social Sciences from 2006.

Hazel has a PhD from Cardiff University, where in her early career she also became a research assistant and academic tutor, and is a psychology expert in areas including intergroup relations, social cognition and home sickness.

One of the aspects of the post at the University of Derby which encouraged Hazel to apply was its BPS accredited and range of online courses in psychology and she is looking forward to the challenge of developing the markets in these areas both nationally and internationally.

She said: "We will be looking to promote our online offering as well as enhancing other areas of Psychology here at Derby - which is especially important in the current economic climate. Derby already has a strong reputation in psychology and I am looking forward to working with the team to develop it further."

Hazel is also a Chartered Psychologist with full membership of the British Psychological Society's Division for Teachers and Researchers in Psychology, and is also an associate lecturer with the Open University.

For more information about this news release, contact Deputy Head of Corporate Relations Simon Redfern on 01332 591942 or 07748 920038 or email s.redfern@derby.ac.uk

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